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Apr-28-2009 21:43printcomments

ATSDR Withdraws Scientifically Flawed Public Health Document

For years, Camp Lejeune community activists have claimed ATSDR’s 1997 report used flawed data to support its conclusion that exposure to the detected levels of volatile organic compounds.

Map of Camp Lejeune
Courtesy: api.ning.com

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Chairman Brad Miller (D-NC) applauded the withdrawal of the public health assessment of Camp Lejeune’s drinking water system by a federal agency, but questioned whether there were assessments for other sites that should also be withdrawn. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a sister agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced this morning that it was withdrawing from its Web site the 1997 public health assessment at Camp Lejeune stating that it could no longer stand behind “the accuracy of the information concerning the drinking water exposure pathway evaluation.”

“This is a welcome step. But it took more than 10 years, pressure from Camp Lejeune activists, numerous press articles and Congressional hearings for this to happen,” said Miller. “Our military families have suffered needlessly because of ASTDR’s flawed work. But our hearings have revealed other sites for which questionable public health assessments were done.”

The Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee held two hearings based on concerns with ATSDR’s public health documents, ranging from its failures to appropriately access the dangers of formaldehyde in travel trailers used by survivors of Hurricane Katrina to its inadequate evaluation of exposures to depleted uranium by residents living near a depleted uranium plant in New York.

Chairman Miller called for the agency to review those other health assessments and withdraw those that could not stand up to a rigorous scientific review.

“Other steps are necessary to ensure that the agency’s future public health assessments are scientifically sound, achieve valid public health conclusions and are based on the most current set of data and information available,” said Miller. “Unfortunately, the Subcommittee’s investigation of ATSDR over the past year has found that is often not the case.”

For years, Camp Lejeune community activists have claimed ATSDR’s 1997 report used flawed data to support its conclusion that exposure to the detected levels of volatile organic compounds, including perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), as well as other toxic chemicals, such as benzene, would not pose a health hazard for adults. It was difficult to review ATSDR’s findings because, as detailed in a Subcommittee staff report released last month, ATSDR had lost many of the critical scientific documents and data upon which the agency had based its 1997 public health assessment.

“Over the past year, the Subcommittee has been examining how ATSDR permits the production of such scientifically flawed documents in the first place, and, frankly, we haven’t come up with a credible answer,” said Miller. “I hope that the agency’s decision to rescind the public health assessment on Camp Lejeune is a sign that the leadership of ATSDR is now willing to acknowledge the agency’s past mistakes and take measures to protect the public’s health in the future. While this is an encouraging sign, the administration and Congress need to be vigilant in overseeing this agency so that it implements its goal of protecting the public’s health.”

For more information, including on the Committee’s work on ATSDR, please visit the Committee’s website.




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Andrea May 17, 2009 7:06 am (Pacific time)

To find out additional information on the Lejeune contamination, please visit www.tftptf.com. On TFTPTF's website you will find a historical documents library, articles, photo gallery, illness registry and discussion board. TFTPTF was formed by 2 Marines whose families were affected by the water contamination.


Submitted May 10, 2009 7:11 pm (Pacific time)

Editor:

Recently the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) advised our Camp Lejeune Community Assistance Panel of plans to remove a 1997 Public Health Assessment (PHA) from our website. In the 12 years since its publication, information in the report has been misinterpreted. For example, we recently wrote to the Veteran’s Administration after learning it may have been used to justify denial of veterans’ benefits.

The availability of new data influenced our decision. New information that will affect our water modeling shows that some communities were exposed to contaminated water for longer than we knew in 1997. Also, in 1997 we knew that one supply well had been shut down because benzene was detected, but did not reference this in the PHA. We should have stated that there was insufficient data to rule out exposures to benzene.

Much of what we now know about potential health effects related to exposures at Camp Lejeune is owed to the 1997 PHA. It spurred ongoing public health research, including extensive water modeling, exposure reconstruction, and epidemiological studies. Once this research is complete, we will update the PHA’s drinking water section. In the meantime, the PHA contains valuable, accurate, historical information about nine other exposure pathways. Exposures to volatile organics in the drinking water occurred at Camp Lejeune. ATSDR declared those past exposures a public health hazard in 1997 and we maintain that position today.
William Cibulas, PhD, CAPT US Public Health Service, Director, Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Atlanta, GA

From starnewsonline.com


Bill R. April 30, 2009 10:47 pm (Pacific time)

Here is more information on the federal government going back on this stance, saying the science that determined the water was toxic was inaccurate: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/5870

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